RETREAT RULES AND REGULATIONS
Contents (click to select): Instruction Series Daily Schedule - Interview Guideline - 8 Precepts - 5 Precepts - Metta Chanting - Loving Kindness - Some Sutta's - Paritta Sutta's
Tathagata Meditation Center (TMC) and its retreat organizers gladly welcome all meditators (yogis) to the intensive Vipassana (Insight) Meditation retreat. We hope this retreat will provide a good opportunity for meditators to develop mindfulness necessary for spiritual insights that lead to enlightenment.
On the first day of the intensive retreat, meditation teachers will give instructions on sitting meditation, walking meditation as well as observing other daily activities. During the retreat the meditation teacher will advice yogis on how to develop progressive insights according to yogi’s report during the interview. The information on this page was extracted from the Retreat Manual (for Intensive Vipassana Retreat) with the following information:
- The Retreat Orientation with basic rules and regulations, guideline for reporting, daily schedule
- Eight Precepts
- Metta Chanting
- Loving-kindness Practice by way of location and by way of persons
- Some Sermon (Sutta) excerpts such as Metta Sutta, Mahā Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta, Paṭiccasamuppāda, Udanagatha, Lakkhaṇattayaṁ, Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta, and Maṅgala Sutta
- Sharing Merits
Have a good and productive retreat!
Retreat Orientation: Basic Rules and Regulations
In order to make spiritual progress during the retreat, meditators need to have faith, effort and perseverance. Faith in the teacher and in the method will inspire meditators to practice. Faith alone is not sufficient, however. Meditators also need effort and perseverance to progress along the spiritual path leading to enlightenment and emancipation. Therefore, faith, effort, and perseverance are indispensable qualities for yogis during the retreat. For the retreat to be smooth and fruitful, all meditators are requested to observe all the retreat rules. The rules may seem demanding but they are created for the benefits of all the meditators who are ready to practice wholeheartedly. They are as follows:
1. Practice seriously. During the retreat, upon seeing yogis not mindfully focusing on their practice, the meditation teacher(s) or the retreat coordinator(s) will remind them so.
2. Take 8 precepts with 2 meals a day, breakfast at 6 A.M. and lunch at 11 A.M.. Juices are served at 4 P.M. in the dining hall. Please do not eat or drink in the open areas or in the meditation hall. Yogis are responsible for cleaning their cups, the rest will be taken care by the center.
3. Keep noble silence all the time, talk only when really necessary such as during the interview or during the question-and-answer session.
4. Bow before and after each sitting meditation, each Dhamma talk, and each interview to display gratitude and humility. Please do not take bowing as a behavior of lower social status.
5. Meditators must do all activities mindfully in slow motion. However, when lining up for taking foods, resume normal pace with mindfulness to have time to finish meal by noon. Look down while walking, standing, eating and during interview reporting.
6. Avoid greeting each other, smoking, physical exercises, yoga, tai chi, making calls, listening to electronic devices, reading books and materials not related to the practice, and wandering.
7. Avoid stretching legs toward the Buddha shrine to show respect.
8. Show respect toward meditation teachers by waiting for them to exit the meditation hall first after every sitting meditation or Dhamma talks except when they remain for further meditation.
9. Refrain from seeing meditation teachers besides the scheduled interview time and the question-and-answer session.
10. After two full days of practice, yogis are scheduled for interview twice a week. Please do the following:
• Check interview list posted on the board in front of the office for interview date, time, location, and teacher.
• Come to interview location at least five minutes ahead of the schedule.
• Report your own experience of practice, direct to the point, not wasting time with intellectual questions. Refer to Guideline for Reporting During Interview.
• Stay within your own interview time allocation.
11. Come to the meditation hall on time to avoid disturbing other yogis.
12. Open and close meditation hall’s doors gently, slowly and mindfully to minimize noises.
13. Yogis should arrive at the meditation hall at least five minutes before the daily Dhamma talk at 5 P.M.
14. Do not skip any sitting meditation, especially the last sitting with loving-kindness (metta) chanting at 9:40 P.M. daily.
15. Sit at prearranged seats in the meditation hall and in the dining hall. Please do not move to another sitting location at will. If there is really a need to move, ask the retreat coordinator first. Yogis are allowed to use resting chairs against the back wall of the meditation hall for 15-minutes maximum on the first-come-first-serve basis.
16. For taking shower after 10:30 P.M., female meditators are requested to use the bathrooms at the little garden to avoid disturbing other yogis who are sleeping or going to sleep.
17. Do not leave your stuff on the empty bed to make it available for a coming yogi.
18. Conserve restroom paper tissues and towels, water, and electricity.
19. Please volunteer for minor tasks, if posted.
20. If communication is needed, write a note and leave it in the “messages” box on the front door of the office. If urgent, find the retreat coordinator or office staff. Office hours: 11 A.M. – 1 P.M. 21.
21. Laundry time and locations will be announced right after the Dhamma talk on the day before the service day. For laundry service, use bag received upon checking in and put your name on it. The cost is currently $10.00 each time.
22. Please check out by 12 Noon since the center needs time to get the room ready for upcoming yogis. When checking out, please remove your name labels at the seats in the meditation hall and the dining hall to make the seats available for coming yogis. The retreat is fully occupied with yogis, so please take this seriously; otherwise, it is very inconvenient for everyone.
23. Refrain from using the dining hall from 10:30 P.M. to 4:30 A.M. (sleeping time).
24. Refreshment is at 4:00 P.M. daily. Minimize refreshment time to have time for walking meditation.
25. To request books, please leave the list of requested books in the “Messages” box on the office’s front door and receive them the day before your departure day.
|5:00||Chanting / Metta / Sitting Meditation|
|6:00||Breakfast / Walking Meditation|
|11:00||Lunch / Rest / Walking Meditation|
|5:00||Precepts / Dhamma Talk|
Your observation of body and mind should be reported according to the following three-step procedure:
- What object you note i.e. the rising and falling movement of the abdomen or any other object becoming most prominent at the present moment.
- How you note it i.e. how you become aware of it with or without labeling.
- What experience you have of it or what happens to the object when noted i.e. you are aware of its shape, manner or characteristics (individual characteristics or common characteristics).
Meditators are supposed to start the report with their experience of the primary object of rising and falling movement of the abdomen according to the above-mentioned procedure.
(a) I watch the abdomen rises (or falls)
(b) I label it as “rising, rising” (or “falling, falling”)
(c) I become aware of stretching, pressure, stiffness, tension etc. I felt pressure increased gradually (when falling, I felt relief or pressure decreased.)
It is very important to describe your primary object in clear, simple and precise terms with all the accurate details you have observed. Only after that should you continue to report on the secondary objects.
The secondary objects are but not limited to the following:
(a) bodily sensations: pain, itch, etc.
(b) Thoughts: ideas, planning, remembering, thinking, etc.
(c) Emotions: anger, pride, joy, happiness, etc.
(d) Noises (hearing), images (seeing), etc.
While mindfully following the primary object, if any of the above secondary objects become prominent (more than the primary object), meditators turn the mind toward that object and mindfully observe it. During the interview, after the reporting on the primary object, meditators also report the experience of the secondary objects according to the above three-step procedure.
1. Body sensation as the most prominent secondary object:
(a) I felt painful on the knee or pain arose in my knee.
(b) I noted it as “pain, pain.”
(c) I found it changed from stabbing pain to hard pain.
(d) I noted as “hard, hard.”
(e) I felt it as slow pulsating hardness, later found it decreased, and after a few minutes disappeared.
(f) Then, I went back to the primary object which is the rising and falling movement of the abdomen.
2. Thoughts and emotions as the most prominent secondary objects:
When reporting different kinds of thoughts such as planning, imagining, judging, daydreaming, etc, or emotions such as anger, frustration, happiness, etc, meditators should report them objectively without mentioning whom or what they are thinking about or who or what makes them angry, etc.
(a) I found myself deep in thoughts.
(b) I noted as “thinking, thinking” (in general) or “planning, planning” or “remembering, remembering (in specific).”
(c) I felt myself angry.
(d) I noted “anger, anger.”
(e) I found it disappeared after a while.
(f) Then, I went back to the primary object which is the rising and falling movement of the abdomen.
A Sample of a Comprehensive Report
I note the rising and falling movement of the abdomen as a primary object of meditation. When I note the rising, I experience tension and heaviness. I then noted the falling as “falling, falling,” my experience of falling was not clear. I found my mind wandered and noted it as “wandering, wandering,” and after a while it stopped. I then went back to the primary object of rising and falling movement of the abdomen.
And then, a pain arose in my knee, I noted it as “pain, pain” but it intensified and began to throb. I noted “throbbing, throbbing” then it lessened and finally disappeared. I then returned to the rising and falling movement of the abdomen.
Suddenly, a sound occurred. I noted “hearing, hearing” and meanwhile an itch took place in the face. I noted it as “itching, itching.” After a while, the itch disappeared and I then returned to the primary object of the rising and falling movement of the abdomen.”
An Advice to Meditators (Yogis)
- Report your own experience, not imaginary stuffs or made-up stories.
- Keep your interview short and to the point by following the above-mentioned procedure and reporting examples.
- Labeling or noting must go concurrently along with precise awareness of the object. Otherwise, it will bring no result.
- Help the meditation teacher to help you develop insights by practicing diligently as instructed and by reporting your practice experience properly as suggested.